Welcome to another Fear Friday here at the Laughing Vixen Lounge. This week's film is the last of the "Into the Woods" theme. A truly independent movie made on a next to nothing budget that would go on to gross millions of dollars and scare the beejeebees out of people. Three filmmakers go missing and a fresh new take on the horror film was born. And a good example of why you do not want to get lost in the woods!!! Enjoy!
Every Friday at the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is Fear Friday. Fear Fridays are a celebration of all films spooky. Horror is a very broad genre and the Lounge loves it all. Each Friday you will find a review of a different film. These can range from Classic Horror (black and white and cheesy), Thrillers (suspense, jumps and a good mystery), outright Horror (chop chop, slash slash, die die) and anything else in between.
So pop some popcorn, kill the lights and enjoy tonight's selection. And please, share your comments on the film. Bad or good let me now what you thought of it. And now, my little ghouls and dolls, the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is proud to present this week's film.
September - Into The Woods
Fear Friday - The Blair Witch Project
Tagline - Everything you've heard is true.
Written and directed by Daniel Myrick (The Objective) and Eduardo Sanchez (Exists) and released on July 30, 1999 by Artisan Entertainment (rated R). Three film makers head into the Maryland woods to shoot a documentary about an urban legend. Unfortunately they will soon find out much more about their subject than they could have ever hoped for.
In October of 1994 three filmmakers entered the woods. They were never seen again but the footage of their experience lives on. Through grainy, sometimes black and white and sometimes color, hand-held film their story unfolds on the screen. Their project was simple. Film a documentary about the Blair Witch. A local urban legend from the woods of Burkitsville, Maryland. We watch as they interview the locals and hear tales of the long ago stories of the town's children going missing and of the strange things still seen today.
Leaving their car by the road the three enter the woods looking for the cabin of the woman believed to have taken the children. The Blair Witch. Their first day proceeds with little worries as they visit various spots in the woods where incidents have supposedly happened. But very soon their outing becomes a living nightmare of which there is no escape.
When The Blair Witch Project premiered it was a big thing. Shot for very little money and featuring no stars. A grainy, shaky film that presented itself a true story or, as we would come to know them, a
"found footage" film. Lots of people went to see it, myself included, and it made lots of money. Some people loved it, some people did not see what all the fuss was about and many people ended up getting sea sick from the camera moving around so much. Either way you look at it the movie definitely made a lasting impact on the movie world especially the horror genre.
The film is deceptively simple. Three people go into the woods, get lost and are never seen again. What makes this movie something worth watching is the effectiveness of it's simplicity. No need for big effects. No need for gore. Just a gradual build of distrust, desperation and anger until it overflows into terror and fear. The hand-held filming works well as it adds to the feel of being out there in the woods with the characters. Specially in the night shots where we, like the characters, are limited to what we can see.
The tension and suspense that rises through the movie comes from little elements like the growing realization that they are severely lost. The fact that their map has gone missing. The strange and bizarre rock and stick formations that appear in the woods and each morning outside their tent. The noises at night that follow them. All of the things that cause a major break down in their trust of each other, of their surroundings and of their mental well being. Building to one a major breaking point when our characters find the exact thing they set out to find. A simple ending that is creepy and chilling.
There is a good chance most of you have already seen this one but if you have not give it a try. Yes, by this point in time the whole "found footage" thing has been worn pretty thin but put that out of your mind and watch it as if you have never seen one before. It is by no means the greatest movie ever made but it is an interesting concept that works well. The one thing that makes me like this movie a bit less is the fact that they basically ripped off an existing film and beat them to the film festivals. Had the original "The Last Broadcast" made it in front of the movie studios first it could have been a whole different thing. If you are interested you can find The Last Broadcast on DVD but be warned. It is very rough and never had the chance to be fleshed out like The Blair Witch Project.
A fun side note from this movie was the Scooby Doo Project. Shown as small bits at the commercial breaks of Cartoon Networks Scooby Doo Marathon on Halloween 1999. I remember catching some of these on TV with my sister and we just cried laughing. I suppose it helps if you grew up watching Scooby Doo. I attached it below.
You can currently find The Blair Witch Project on Netflix, Amazon and Redbox streaming and on most DVD services.
Take a look at the original trailer.
The Scooby Doo Project from Cartoon Network.
Some trivia about the movie.
1. This film was in the Guinness Book Of World Records for "Top Budget:Box Office Ratio" (for a mainstream feature film). The film cost $22,000 to make and made back $240.5 million, a ratio of $1 spent for every $10,931 made.
2. The three leads believed the Blair Witch was a real legend during filming, though of course they knew the film was going to be fake. Only after the film's release did they discover that the entire mythology was made up by the film's creators.
3. It took only 8 days to shoot.
4. The actors were requested to interview the townspeople, who often, unbeknownst to the actors, were planted by the directors. As a result, the expressions on the actors' faces were unrehearsed.
5. To promote discord between actors, the directors deliberately gave them less food each day of shooting.
6. The sign for Burkittsville at the beginning of the movie has been stolen three times, and was stolen opening night of the movie.
7. The actors were given no more than a 35-page outline of the mythology behind the plot before shooting began. All lines were improvised and nearly all the events in the film were unknown to the three actors beforehand, and were often on-camera surprises to them all.
8. The film was originally of a much higher definition quality and was degraded deliberately to look more authentic to the time it was shot.
9. When promoting the film, the producers claimed it was real footage. Some people still believe it.
10. In the movie, Heather and Mike share a somewhat antagonistic attitude towards each other. In the commentary, the directors revealed it was Heather and Joshua who were arguing most of the time (and more heatedly). Almost all of the footage of their arguments was taken from the final cut after the filmmakers decided it seemed like both men were "ganging up" on Heather.
11. The directors put up posters at a local college in an attempt to recruit students to help work on this low budget production. Only one person responded to the recruitment ad, and this was Patricia DeCou, who not only portrayed Mary Brown, but also helped with the art department.
12. Heather, Mike and Josh were under strict instructions to follow trails and directions given to them by the movie crew to ensure they would reach each designated site to camp in for the night.
13. The first title for the movie was The Blair Witch Tapes.
14. Held the record for the highest-grossing independent movie of all time until October 2002, when it was surpassed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).
15. The working title was "The Black Hills Project."
16. The film premiered in the midnight movie section at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
17. This film was one of the most pirated films of 1999 because of limited release due to its independent status. The pirated version was an unfinished leaked work-print with several plot holes and most of the initial interviews missing leading to audience confusion at final scene of the film.